“Let’s Keep Youth in BiH: Completing the Higher Education Cycle” was the title of the conference held on November 29, 2019 in Banja Luka, organized by the associations “Prava za sve” from Sarajevo and “Budućnost” from Modriča.

The conference is a part of the “Student Internship: a Fast Track to a Job” project, financially supported by the European Union, which supports the reform of higher education in accordance with EU standards through different activities, enabling students to get an education which provides practical skills necessary for the labor market in BiH, and a quicker way to a job.

The youth are not interested in the labor market. This is a paradox, since BiH has a surplus of highly educated youth, but not enough highly educated youth in the IT sector and other scarce vocations. Additionally, young people have little and insufficient practical work programs. Around 30% of the interviewed young people has never had practice, 50% has stated that they do not have skills required to work upon employment. This EU project supports the development of a strategy of smart development in the Western Balkans countries, as well as a platform which would contribute to the economic and business development, as well as help in education, since young people would choose faculties required in the labor market. Only when a country has such a strategy can it move forward and harmonize the labor market with the students’ decision on which faculties they choose”, says Jadranka Mihić, program manager at the office of the EU in BiH.

The conference was an opportunity to present the first study “Mapping the Student Practice in Bosnia and Herzegovina” which presents the first analysis of the state in the field of implementing student practice in BiH as means of students’ professional development and their preparation for the labor market.

Lejla Gačanica, the author of the publication, emphasized that the “reasons for the underutilization of student practice in BiH have several layers – both when it comes to the legislative framework, as well as the standardization and systemic introduction of practice where all students would have not only obligatory, but also organized and quality practical classes. In order to overcome these deficiencies, cooperation between universities and the employers is necessary.

The first online platform of the ERSE Network was also created as part of the project, in order to connect all employers, students and the academia in publishing and implementing student internships was also created as part of the project.

Diana Šehić, the director of Prava za sve stated that “the ERSE Network platform will contain all information on student practice in BiH. The employers will be able to publish their calls for internships, the students will be able to submit application, as well as the academia. This way, all those who are interested will be able to get all required information about available internships in one place. The website will be interactive, and will be used by members of the Network, as well as all registered users.

Today’s conference also marked the end of the first year of the project. “I am very proud of all implemented activities, but I am most proud of the great response and involvement of students, representatives of the academia and the business community. This is an indicator that we are doing something good, all in order to achieve a better and safer future for our youth”, says Jelena Mišić, director of CA “Budućnost” Modriča.

Besides representatives of the office of the EU in BiH, the event gathered representatives of universities, faculties, the business community, associations of employers, chambers of economy, student organizations and relevant institutions that deal with issues of youth, student exchange, and professional training.